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Self-worth is the first topic that jumped out in my head after thinking about what to post on here next. I hope to explore questions such as:
- What is self worth?
- Where does self-worth come from?
- How to increase self-worth to OVER 9000 and maintain a true, unshakable sense of self-worth (it’s easier than you think!)
First, let’s tackle what self-worth is. Just googling “self-worth” and the first thing that comes up is: “In sociology and psychology, self–esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.” I agree with the second part but I see the first part as being way off. I do not see self-esteem as being a reflection of self-worth. I see them as two very different things and just because you have high self-esteem does not necessarily mean you have high self-worth. I want to differentiate between self-esteem and self-worth as I see a lot of people thinking the two terms are one and the same and I see them as quite different. I see self-worth as a person’s inherent view of themselves, basically how much they value their worth as a person whereas self-esteem is confidence in your abilities which is more extrinsic in nature. Society places a high value on achievements and this extrinsic factor while I believe having a high intrinsic self-worth is better.
In order to talk about where I believe self-worth comes from, it may be easier to first question some common places which people attribute to adding to self-worth.
Does true self-worth come from looks? Oh hell no! And for several reasons. First of all you can’t control your looks besides expensive plastic surgery, and even then your looks WILL eventually fade. If you base your self-worth on how attractive you are, what happens when you are 60+ years old and you lose your attractiveness? Also by basing your self-worth on something you are born with and that is an extrinsic factor, you are basically always comparing yourself to others to maintain your self-worth. What happens when someone comes along that is more attractive than you, which will happen! Even if you are labeled the most attractive person on the planet, that is only a temporary title, you cannot hold onto it forever. By basing your self-worth on something that is outside of your control, extrinsic in nature, and will eventually fade; you are setting yourself up for eventual misery down the road and at the very least, ultimately questioning your self-worth.
Does true self-worth come from your physique? Again, no and I will explain how this differs from looks. Your physique is similar to looks except you have more control over this through proper exercise and nutrition. Looks is your physical level of attraction and physique contributes to this because you can have an amazing body but still be “ugly” according to society’s standards. Again, while it may be a boost to your self-esteem to be disciplined enough to maintain an amazing body, what happens if you “let yourself go”? For any number of reasons; physical injury, sickness, thyroid issues, laziness, depression, age, etc you can lose your figure to any number of reasons. Again, if your self-worth is partly or mostly made up of something extrinsic such as physique, it can all be taken away at any moment.
Does true self-worth come from your talents and abilities? Again no and no! Let’s say you are an amazing piano player naturally. You practice and practice and become one of the best players in the world. By basing your self-worth on extrinsic factors like your piano playing ability, you could lose it all at any moment. This even happened to someone I know. She was an incredible organist but then got a hand issue at a young age which caused her to pretty much lose her ability to play; at the very least severely hamper/limit her current and future ability. This has happened to others as well like sports players who get injured. If they based their self-worth on their abilities, what do you think happened to it once they lost that ability in an instant? Also you are again comparing yourself to others. Even Michael Phelps loses and someone will eventually break his records in everything given enough time.
I feel as if I’m beating a dead horse some, but basically I can name any external factor that people base their self-worth upon and eliminate it because of its extrinsic nature. Money/possessions, relationships, even beliefs and accomplishments can all be taken away at any time and should not be the basis of our self-worth.
If self-worth should not be made up of any of these things, then what CAN self-worth be attributed to? How can we maintain an unshakable level of self-worth despite what happens to us?
The answer comes from within. There is one thing that every single person is best at being in the entire world. The answer is being ourselves. Being our true selves. No one is better at being ourselves than we are. Finding what interests us and makes us happy and being true to ourselves cannot be taken away. Even if someone thinks another person’s interests or quirks makes them weird or uncool or is bad, that is merely an opinion and criticism. It doesn’t change who they are. Discovering and living as our authentic selves and being the best version of ourselves make up our self-worth. It doesn’t compare to anyone else because there will ALWAYS be someone “better” in some way. This is why our self-worth must come from within and from being our true selves, because nothing can take that away from us.
When we stop comparing ourselves to others, we can live as who we truly are and can become the best we can be. No one is better at being themselves. The hardest part in this process is discovering what it means to be true to ourselves and living a life that reflects our most authentic self without reservation. This is no easy task and the vast majority will never experience living with 100% authenticity. We let what others say affect us and influence our decisions.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think having a high self-esteem is a bad thing. It is perfectly fine to be confident with ones’ abilities and achievements and to regard of themselves highly. It’s when we place this false sense of confidence (which can be taken away at any time) as being more important than being true to ourselves is when we have a problem. When we care more about what others’ think, when we change who we are due to someone else’s opinions, when we don’t take our own selves into consideration first, we experience a low sense of self-worth and all the issues that comes with it.
Only you know what makes you truly happy. As long as this happiness doesn’t involve hurting others or taking from them, you should be happy to pursue your interests to the fullest. Once your own needs are met, you are in a much better position to help other people get their needs fulfilled. There is nothing we want more than to get our needs fulfilled and to help others get their needs fulfilled.
So to wrap up, how do we obtain a high sense of unshakable self-worth? Live as your most authentic self. Only you know who that person is. Stop comparing yourself to other people and don’t allow their opinions and criticisms to affect you. Be the best version of yourself you can be. True self-worth comes from within and is not based on anything you can DO. It is based upon BEING. Living every day in the present moment and simply being the person you want to be. That is all any of us can ask. Just because we aren’t a world record holder or gold medalist doesn’t make us any less of a human. Simply being and having a positive impact on the tiny slice of the world that we experience each and every day is enough.